5 things I did to transform my pantry – from chaotic mess to organized haven

If your pantry is a cluttered minefield, I recommend implementing these simple tricks

pantry with white subway tiles in modern kitchen with pink cabinetry and marble
(Image credit: Future PLC)

In my opinion, the pantry is the most important space in the kitchen. When I organize my pantry, I like to live by the rule ‘a place for everything and everything in its place.’ This means that all your pantry staples have a permanent home in your pantry: you know where this is and so does everybody else in the house.

Following this simple rule means that when something is taken out to use, it will be put back in the exact same spot, no more guessing where it is or messing up the rest of the pantry trying to find it.

Whether you have a walk-in pantry or a small pantry, the pantry is the area that stores all the essentials for cooking, and if not organized correctly can have an effect on how your kitchen runs day to day.

5 things that transformed my pantry overnight 

These are my non-negotiables when it comes to organizing a pantry no matter what size.

Pantry ideas Kitchen Architecture

(Image credit: Kitchen Architecture)

1. Start from scratch

Pantry with goods stored in glass jars and baskets

(Image credit: Future / James French)

This is the first rule of your pantry transformation, there is no point trying to wade through the disorganized mess and come up with a system from there. You have to start from scratch if you truly want your pantry to have a makeover.

That means taking everything out of your pantry to assess what you actually have in it. This can be daunting when you see a tin of sauce three years out of date, but we have all been there.

Start by putting your food into groups, for example, all the condiments with each other, all the breakfast foods together, and dried foods such as pasta and rice. This practice will really help when you are putting everything back in the space. 

2. See-through storage

Compact kitchen storage solution

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

Making sure that you have plenty of see-through storage is essential, transparent bins and canisters help you to locate things in your pantry quickly, and they also make it easier to keep everything constantly organized. 

Decanting bulky packaged items that you get from the grocery store like cereal and pasta will make it easier to find and give you more space in the process.

Transparent storage bins also mean that you can see when you are running low on something and it needs restocking just by looking at it. My favorite see-through storage bins are these ones, available on Amazon.

3. Turntables

lazy susan in bamboo material

(Image credit: Amazon)

Turntables are truly a lifesaver, I don’t know what I would do without them in my pantry. The trick when using a turntable on a shelf in your pantry is to only put items on the turntables, do not put items around the turntables. If you start adding items around the turntables on the same shelf they are sitting on, the space will start to look and feel cluttered.

Let the turntables do the work, and place all your items on top of them. I have two turntables in my pantry, both on the same shelf and nothing on the free space around them. I like to use one for spreads and sauces and the other for liquid condiments like oil, vinegar, and soya sauce.

The fact that these tables turn’ means that you no longer have to reach into the depths of your cupboard to find something, simply swivel them around to be able to get a full 360-degree look at everything you have on the table, truly revolutionary.

I use these stylish wooden turntables from Amazon to amplify my pantry space.  

4. Labels labels labels

food jars with labels on metal wire shelving

(Image credit: Future PLC)

You cannot underestimate the power of labels, they provide written evidence that what you think is in your pantry is actually in there. I like to label everything in my pantry with this nifty label maker from Amazon.

Having things properly labeled means that everyone in the household can know where everything is at all times. You can have a bin labeled snacks and all the snacks can go in there another labeled cooking sauces and so on.

This system also works great if you have children as they know where to put things back and where to get them from without constantly being told.

5. Food grouping

Pantry ideas - Pantry cupboard with drawers

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

Food grouping will ensure that your pantry stays organized for a long period of time. I started food grouping and my whole system changed overnight. This is because I never have to go looking for things in my pantry. I always know where everything is at a reach of a hand.

To group food effectively, identify food and cooking categories that work best for you, these can include, weeknight dinners, lunches, and baking.

Next, plan out a designated area for each with the most often used groups easy to reach and in a convenient position in your pantry, then label each zone to keep the sections contained. 

I like to group food using transparent bins and containers, this method makes cooking easier, quicker, and hassle-free. 

How do you stock a pantry for the first time?

When you stock a pantry for the first time do not go out and buy everything all at once. Start by buying what you need and build outwards. Think about what food items you use on an everyday basis, buy those and store them accordingly. Over time you will build a pantry that has everything that you need. 

The pantry may be a daunting place to tackle. Once you remove everything from the space and start to re-organize the pantry you may think ‘how did I get all of that in there?’ and ‘how am I going to put it back?’ But you will. 

An organized pantry is just the thing every kitchen needs to run smoothly and you will not regret thoroughly organizing this space as once done your pantry will effectively run itself. Mine does.

Seraphina Di Mizzurati
Contributing Editor

Seraphina is a contributing editor at Homes & Gardens, writing Solved features on organizing and storage. She loves to decorate and also grow her own produce from her home in London. Her previous experience includes working at Women's Health and Fabulous Magazine.